WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump wrapped up his term at the White House with a farewell video on his final day in office Tuesday, acknowledging the incoming Biden administration, touting his administration’s accomplishments, and condemning violence in the wake of the pro-Trump riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
"My fellow Americans, four years ago we launched a great national effort to rebuild our country, to renew its spirit and to restore the allegiance of this government to its citizens," Trump began in a video posted on YouTube. "In short, we embarked on a mission to make America great again for all Americans."
"We did what we came here to do — and so much more," Trump said. "This week we inaugurate a new administration and pray for its success in keep Americans safe and prosperous."
The outgoing president gave thanks to his wife, first lady Melania Trump, his children, Vice President Mike Pence and several other members of his administration.
Trump then laid out his accomplishments over the past four years.
"Four years ago, I came to Washington as the only true outsider ever to win the presidency," he explained. "Together with millions of hardworking patriots across this land, we built the greatest political movement in the history of our country. We also built the greatest economy in the history of the world."
"We passed the largest package of tax cuts and reforms in American history," he added. "We slashed more job-killing regulations than any administration had ever done before. We fixed our broken trade deals, withdrew from the horrible Trans-Pacific Partnership and the impossible Paris Climate Accord, renegotiated the one-sided South Korea deal, and we replaced NAFTA with the groundbreaking USMCA — that’s Mexico and Canada — a deal that’s worked out very, very well."
Trump then talked about job creation, the tariffs he imposed on China and how he dealt with COVID-19, which he described as the "China virus."
"When our nation was hit with the terrible pandemic, we produced not one, but two vaccines with record-breaking speed, and more will quickly follow," he said.
During his nearly 20-minute speech, Trump did not mention President-elect Joe Biden by name, instead referring to the "new administration."
"Now, as I prepare to hand power over to a new administration at noon on Wednesday, I want you to know that the movement we started is only just beginning," he said. "I go from this majestic place with a loyal and joyful heart, an optimistic spirit, and a supreme confidence that for our country and for our children, the best is yet to come."
The outgoing president’s video address came after first lady Melania Trump posted a farewell video message on Twitter Monday, reminiscing on her time at the White House over the past four years.
"My fellow Americans, it has been the greatest honor of my life to serve as first lady of the United States," she said. "The past four years have been unforgettable as Donald and I conclude our time at the White House, I think of all of the people I have taken home in my heart and their incredible stories of love, patriotism and determination."
The White House released excerpts of the president’s video address ahead of its planned release Tuesday afternoon, a day ahead of President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration.
Trump will soon board Air Force One for a final time, flying to his Mar-A-Lago resort in Florida and becoming the first outgoing president in more than a century to skip the inauguration of his successor. Trump is the first incumbent president since Andrew Johnson not to attend his successor’s inauguration.
Biden said he was fine with that, calling Trump’s decision not to attend "one of the few things we have ever agreed on."
Trump has also refused to take part in any of the symbolic passing-of-the-torch traditions that have been the capstones of the peaceful transition of power from one administration to the next. Trump also passed on inviting the Bidens to the White House for a get-to-know-you meeting. And it remains unclear whether he will write Biden a personal welcome letter, like the one he received from former President Barack Obama when he moved in.
Traditionally, the incoming and outgoing presidents ride to the U.S. Capitol together on Inauguration Day for the ceremony, a visible manifestation of the smooth change of leadership.
While Trump stays away, former Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton will be there to stand witness to the rite of democracy. The only other living president, 96-year-old Jimmy Carter, who has spent the pandemic largely at home in Georgia, will not attend but has extended "best wishes" to Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.
Vice President Mike Pence said he will attend Biden’s inauguration, but will not be present at the farewell event Trump has planned for himself.
Trump’s decision not to attend the inauguration was not a surprise: For more than two months, he has falsely claimed he won reelection and advanced unsubstantiated claims of widespread voter fraud, even though his own administration has said the election was fair. Trump filed dozens of lawsuits in several battleground states to overturn the 2020 election results, but none prevailed in courts.
His efforts to undo Biden’s win took a dangerous turn after a pro-Trump mob stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. The insurrection came after Trump held a rally repeating his false claim that he won the election. Trump encouraged his supporters to march to the Capitol, where lawmakers were in the process of certifying Biden’s win in the Electoral College.
The riot left five people dead, including Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, who was hit in the head by a fire extinguisher.
Trump addressed the Capitol riot in his farewell video on Tuesday, saying, "All Americans were horrified by the assault on our Capitol."
"Political violence is an attack on everything we cherish as Americans... It can never be tolerated," Trump said in the video.
Many House Democrats, and 10 Republicans, said they believed Trump precipitated the riot and voted to impeach him, for a second time, for inciting it. His impeachment trial will now move to the Senate, where lawmakers will vote either convict or acquit him.
In one of his final acts as president, Trump was expected to grant clemency to as many as 100 people, according to two people briefed on the plans. The list of pardons and commutations is expected to include names unfamiliar to the American public — regular people who have spent years languishing in prison — as well as politically-connected friends and allies like those he’s pardoned in the past.
The Associated Press and FOX News contributed to this report. The story was reported from Los Angeles.